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Valve has released the first Steam Controller video demonstration across a number of different game types, many of which are designed to use the native keyboard and mouse scheme. I was already sold on the controller but anyone who wasn't probably will be.
The video's near four-and-a-half-minute rundown of the Steam Controller's functionality leaves out all the technicalities we were introduced to when the controller was first announced. Instead, Valve simply gives us a look at the most important feature of the controller: how well it works in a real-time video game environment.
We get to see how well the controller works as an emulation for native keyboard and mouse control schemes in Portal 2, which seemed just about pitch-perfect in the video. We also get to see how well the controller works in a native FPS environment where the trackpad replaces the aiming of a traditional mouse in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For the most part it looked about as adept to the task as your standard mouse. Whether or not the speed of precision will be as good as a traditional touchpad or the standard mouse is still debatable, and that may also depend on the skill of the player as well. For instance, my reaction time with a touchpad is way faster than with a mouse, where-as some people find that they get much quicker forms of precise reaction from a standard mouse over a touchpad. So... to each his (or her) own.
The Steam Controller is also used in a more mouse-stringent environment with Civilization V, where the accuracy of a mouse pointer really comes into play and the entirety of the gameplay smoothness hinges on the precision of a player's reaction. Surprisingly (or for those who are already believers, unsurprisingly) enough the Steam Controller holds its own and seems to manage all the necessary functions that you would expect from a mouse but housed in the confines of a controller.
In the case of all the games it was tested with, the thing seemed to perform beautifully. If I had a suggestion for a game I would like to see it used with it would be APB: Reloaded. The reason I mention that game is because you really need the ergonomic feeling of a controller the pressure-sensitive triggers for the driving (and drifting), but you'll also need the quick response timing and precision of a mouse for all the intense fire-fights. I tried using a 360 controller with the game and while you can ace the driving during chase sequences, you'll get owned in the gun fights. Seeing how well the controller can handle both polar points of gameplay would be impressive.
As for the look of the controller – in a real-world setting – the rather simple design and matte black finish gives it a less-than-expensive look, even less so than I had imagined. Still, if a cheap look means a cheap price then I'm all in. Besides, I'm more concerned about functionality than aesthetic finesse.
The Steam Controller will roll out for the general consumer during the early half of 2014. The controller will also be sent out for testing purposes during the prototype phase at the end of the year. You can learn more about the Steam Controller by paying a kind visit to the official Steam Community page.